VW stock crashes after admitting it rigged U.S. emission tests

FILE - In a Tuesday, May 5, 2015 file photo, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn addresses the shareholders during the annual shareholder meeting of the car manufacturer Volkswagen in Hannover, Germany. Winterkorn apologized Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, after the Environmental Protection Agency said the German automaker skirted clean air rules by rigging emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel cars. "I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public," Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn said in a statement. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

BERLIN -- Around 15 billion euros ($16.9 billion) was wiped off the market value of Volkswagen AG today following revelations that the German carmaker rigged U.S. emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel cars.

By early afternoon trading in Frankfurt, Volkswagen's share price was down a stunning 19.4 percent at near three-year low of 130.20 euros. Its dramatic fall weighed heavily on Germany's main stock index, the DAX, which underperformed its peers in Europe with a 0.6 percent decline.

Volkswagen's market woes today followed a weekend that saw the company's reputation for probity seriously damaged by revelations from the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. that it had skirted clean air rules. All told, the EPA indicated that VW faces fines that could run up to more than $18 billion.

The EPA said VW used a device programmed to detect when the cars are undergoing official emissions testing.